Arson Suspected in Synagogue Fire; Rabbi Rescued Scrolls

Local police suspect that arsonists were responsible for a pre-dawn fire that destroyed Temple B’nai Torah on Mercer Island, a community near Seattle, last Thursday. Rabbi Abraham Singer, spiritual leader of the Jewish community, estimated the damage at $95,000.

He said that bottles of ceremonial wine and sterling silver crowns and bells that decorated the temple’s three Torah scrolls were stolen. The Torahs themselves were undamaged. Rabbi Singer rescued the scrolls from the blazing building after firemen allowed him to enter wearing a hardhat and fire-retardant jacket. He said one of the scrolls, a gift to the synagogue in 1973, had been previously rescued from a fire in Europe a generation ago. Local authorities said the temple was apparently broken into by burglars who started a fire to cover up their theft. Empty wine and whiskey bottles were found at the scene.

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